Posted in Publishing, Querying Help, social media, Twitter, VIdeos, Youtube Video

I Got My Agent on Twitter! 10 Tips for Online Pitching Contests like #DVpit & #Pitmad

Most authors get their agents through the slush pile. That is, sending their query to an agent’s email inbox and standing out among the thousands of other writers in there. But there are other ways….




This little tweet here got me my literary agents. I posted it on Twitter last April during #DVpit, a Twitter event created to showcase works about and especially by marginalized voices. By May I was signed to Fuse Literary. Sounds easy, but remember this came after years of writing, revising, crying and a few months of querying. #DVpit has more specific rules but there are other contests such as #Pitmad that are open to everyone.


During these events you will pitch your book using the indicated # for the specific contest and then identifiers like #YA (for young adult) or #UF for urban fantasy. Usually you can only tweet one pitch per hour, then wait for an agent or editor to fav your pitch and send them your query and sometimes opening pages depending on their submission guidelines. This is useful because many times agents read requested materials from these events first and it allows agents to find YOU instead of the other way around. A full list of rules and mechanics for each event is posted on their respective websites.


While Twitter pitch contests like #DVpit & #Pitmad aren’t replacements for traditional querying, they can definitely help you bypass the line all while improving your book pitching skills.


I would also like to point out that the agents/editors and publishers participating during #Pitmad aren’t curated so PLEASE make sure to do your research before you submit to them! I have a story on what happens to you when you don’t and it’s not pretty.


If you’re planning on participating in #DVpit or any of the other contests out there please check out my video! I gathered a collection of tips from authors and agents on pitching via Twitter events that will be super helpful for any querying writers. Make sure to like and subscribe to my channel for more videos & if you have any questions about these events leave me a comment on YouTube and I’ll do my best to answer it! Good luck!


Posted in AmQuerying Series, querying, writing

#AmQuerying: With Katie Golding


Hello nerds! Today I have my fourth guest of the #Amquerying series, the amazing Texas-loving Katie Golding! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I started this series while I was smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. You can follow Katie on Twitter here and read below to find out how she got her agent, her love of video games, her feelings on the possible vampire-revival in publishing and more!


How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

Is there a way to prepare for querying other than clutching your beta tight and hoping for the best? I’m not sure, but other than that, I used Agentquery.com and did a lot of blog scouring, a lot of revising, and a lot of twitter query critique contests.

How did you research the agents you queried? Any helpful websites you can share?

Really, I started by Googling “romance literary agents”. Yep, I’m pretty basic even on my best days. Writersdigest.com has database that I used extensively to find out who was open to submissions, and once I had a list, I looked closely at their personal websites to figure out their submission guidelines. Also, I have a great group of CPs who would recommend agents that were popping up on their radar, but may not have pinged on mine for whatever reason.

I hear you like to suffer and queried multiple books at once, can you tell me about that?

Well, first, DON’T DO THIS! It is a ridiculous thing and causes more problems than good! *laughs* But yes, I started to query one book, while finishing writing/revising another unrelated novel. By Christmas, my patience to keep the second book hidden in the drawer fully gave out, and I entered it in a twitter contest just to see what kind of response it would get and if anyone was interested. They were, and then everything got really, really complicated.

Apart from just keep track of who had what and how much of it, when I received an offer of rep on Book B, I had to contact agents that had fulls of Book A, and tell them I was getting offers on a novel they didn’t even know I had written! There were questions of what happens to Book A if I sign on Book B, which one I wanted to focus on more but OFFER OF REP and DREAM AGENT and just…chaos. All the chaos. In the end, it worked out for me because I wouldn’t have met my agent if I hadn’t taken the chance with putting the second novel in the twitterverse, but for anyone who wants to stay sane, I highly recommend querying/contest’ing only one book at a time.

You used to write Vampire Diaries fanfic & there have been rumors that people in publishing are trying to make vampires happen again. What are your feelings on this?  

I wrote a ton of The Vampire Diaries fanfic, like somewhere in the vicinity of nearly a million words, so you’d think I’d be sick to death of vampires by now. But really, if vamps are coming back in publishing, I don’t have a problem with it. The story can contain vampires, or space cowboys, or a king in ancient Persia and as long as there is a reason for a character to be that, and that it’s being used as a tool to explore the full range of themes instead of just flashing fang for the sake of it, I’m down. After all, what we’re really reading/writing about is love and the human condition, the tantalizing question of “What if I made all the wrong choices, and it brought me all the right things?” Vampires are just a very comfortable way for us to anchor those stories in a way that readers can relate to. Bring ‘em on.

What was the querying process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent? How many bottles of wine did you drink, approximately?

Well, I could tell you, but my therapist has advised against me recollecting this dark and difficult time. No, that’s a lie. It really wasn’t too bad, though the process was—I would say—standardly long? It was long enough that I was ready to be done by the time it was over.

Stats: I queried my first novel starting in April of 2014, and it went out 41 times before it was shelved. My second novel went out June 2015, and it had 25 different hooks thrown in the water before I ended up retracting it. My third book I technically never queried. I twitter pitched it during #PitchMas (while still querying my second book like a geeeenyus), sent my queries and synopsis and pages to the agents who had made requests, and I officially signed that book with one of those agents the following April.

So it took me three books (plus the two I self-pubbed and pubbed through Kindle Scout in between), two years (almost to the day), multiple contests (#PitchSlam, #PitMad, #PitchMas, #WritePit, Write Club, plus more I’m probably forgetting), and god-only-knows how much wine and cheese and how many really big cheeseburgers I went through. Oh, and chocolate. Can’t forget the chocolate.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, cool? Dog-sitting-in-a-burning-room-meme-stressed?

Man, I was so cool, I was basically Matthew McConaughey and just walked around repeating, “Alright, alright, alright . . . ” You know, like we Texans do. Um, truthfully, I held it together as well as I expect anyone does. You have your good days, you have your days where you want to give up and question everything, and you have your days where you don’t even think about it because you’re too busy writing. Those are the ones you should strive for, because as fun as getting requests are, you’ll always be waiting on an email, no matter what stage of the game you’re in.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

I have a great support team that keeps me working and laughing constantly. It’s a system I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m also a fan of relieving stress via video games, anything from racing cars to puzzles to first person shooters works wonders for me when I’m not working on the next project. And there should always be a next project.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

I think everything was unexpected, really. I think, now, I can say that I initially didn’t expect for it to take so long, yet I didn’t expect it to go by so fast either. I didn’t expect the community of other writers that I found in the process, or the bonds that we made. I certainly didn’t expect it to end with a tweet and not a query, and I didn’t expect that once I was out of the trenches, I would still be writing more query letters for myself, simply to help plot future books! It never ends!

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?

Apart from finding a fountain of never-ending patience and living the rest of your life in it, just make sure you can be found. And what I mean is that more than just having your website pop up in an SEO, that you’re putting yourself out there every way that’s open to you. Instead of just querying and relying on someone sorting through the slush pile, participate in the writing community through contests and by promoting others, reading and leaving reviews, and even by simply talking to those who are talking about writing on social media. You never know when or where you could get “discovered.”

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

Only in the sense that without them, my heart, soul, and career would be the equivalent to applesauce right now. My beta/CP Michelle Hazen is my rock, and between spamming me lists of agents to query and mailing me cheer-up cheese post rejections, she talked to me about her own journey. We traded queries that worked, many that didn’t, and we bumbled our way through the process together. It also helped that while I’m quite introverted, she is not, and along the way, she made a lot of great contacts that I quickly stuck my face into, trying to keep her all to myself while also stealing her pre-readers for my own books. #Sorrynotsorry We share a lot of CPs and pre-readers for that reason. And she finds really good pre-readers.

Your call was literally a Christmas miracle; can you tell us about it? Also, were you wearing reindeer PJS?

Oh man, I so should’ve been wearing reindeer PJs! That would’ve been so great! Alas, I think I was wearing probably three pairs of pants and four sweaters because Texans hate winter. It’s a fact. But basically, a request from #PitchMas very quickly became a request to call me and talk. On Christmas Eve. My response was somewhere along the lines of: Yes, agent, yes I will talk to you on Christmas Eve and have all my dreams come true. Sign me up. So . . . Christmas Eve came. She called. We talked. I had galaxies of stars in my eyes when she said my writing was “addicting,” and my feet were still somewhere in the stratosphere even after hearing the words “revise” and “resubmit.” But once we hung up, I finished decorating my tree, and at approximately 12:01 am on December 26th, I went to work. Tore the book apart about a billion times over, and when I resubmitted it, I don’t think I breathed again until I heard back. The answer was yes, and we signed some really cool papers with a rather lovely couple of names on them. *wipes away happy tears*

Describe the querying process in 3 gifs




Tell us a little about your upcoming book/what’s next for you.

I’m starting a new project right now and I’m so excited for it! It’s an adult romance that gets behind the wheel of a rally car—with her in the driver’s seat, and him in the passenger. It’s going to be a little darker, and a lot sexier than what I usually write, and I can’t wait to see where the characters are going to take me. Outside of that, I recently started an interview series on my blog called Writers on the Rise. I’m speaking to writers who are currently in the process of querying, asking who they are, what they write, and how we can support them in their journey. The response has been even more positive than I could have hoped.

Anything else you’d like to share??

ONE BOOK AT A TIME, PEOPLE! LOL No really, just know that every one of you is undeniably awesome, and no one—no rejection—can change that. Oh, and eat tacos often. They help with just . . . everything.


About Katie


Katie Golding is sports fan with a writing problem. The former English major at Texas State University resides in Austin, Texas, ever trying to teach her son to throw a perfect football spiral while counting down the days to the next MotoGP race. With her husband taking on dinner duties in support of her writing time, she self-published two contemporary romance novels and can frequently be found blogging about tacos and typos. She is currently at work on both her golf swing and her next romance novel. RWA; represented by Shira Hoffman of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Follow her on Twitter @KatieGolding_TX

FB: www.facebook.com/katiegoldingbooks

Website and Blog: www.KatieGoldingBooks.com

Posted in Poetry

About My Son



I want to tell you about my son

Because he’s really smart and he gets straight A’s

Because he’s an athlete and he’s funny and kind

I want to tell you about my son

Because he’s never said a curse word in front of his mother

Never come home drunk or high

Never punched a wall or driven too fast

I want to tell you about my son because he’s tall too tall for his age

Too big too strong too present

Because he’s too beautiful

He’s too young

His parents from and land of water and sun

But his skin is too dark

Someone will see him

Someone will notice

I’m scared I’m scared I’m scared

If something happens they’ll say he asked for it

He deserved it because he had something on him he didn’t have

Because he’s a bad kid and nobody knew

But I want to tell you now, none of it’s true 

Just in case

Just in case

Because I’m worried everyday

We’re worried every day

We’re tired every day

We’re angry every day

Angrier and angrier

So, I want to tell you about my son

Because he’s good and he’s kind

But even if he wasn’t

His skin isn’t reason enough

For him to die


Posted in Publishing, writing

Derailing The Diversity Train


There have been quite a few awful blog posts, videos and speeches given regarding the discussion of diversity in publishing in the past few weeks. Some of these opinion pieces have led to harassment, to trolling, to people leaving Twitter and blocking half a village.

There has been a push towards inclusiveness in the publishing world lately and it’s normal to see push back. Change always begets fear. Fear sometimes leads to opposition. Like any discussion on any sensitive topic there will be people who get upset, people who take it to the extreme with things like death threats which are completely ridiculous, and people who express their anger pointedly.

The discussion about diversity has largely been about one message: creating space for all of us. Yet, over and over again, I see authors and bloggers choose to focus on the anger that is a part of the discussion instead of the discussion itself. This is taking away from what we should really be talking about and it’s not only frustrating, it’s breeding more anger.

This past week a wonderful initiative called #Diverseathon was started by a group of Booktubers to promote reading diverse titles. #DVpit, a Twitter event geared towards showcasing pitches about and especially by marginalized voices, has had over FIFTEEN successful agent/author matches just since April, there are WoC on the NYT bestseller list, and yet all the think pieces I see by white bloggers and authors are focusing on how horrible the “hate culture” has become on Twitter. Focusing on the fighting instead of the issues and how we can tackle them, only speaking out to complain about how censored they feel or how little they care about diversity in the first place.

I realize this blog post is just another circling the discussion instead of focusing on solutions and the discussion itself but the thing is, I do focus on those things, every day. I live it. I write about it, talk about it, both publicly and privately. I was getting so many questions on Twitter re: Ownvoices, things that could be easily googled, that I had to temporarily close my DMs to get any work done. I do my part by writing books about brown girls like me, by researching even though I grew up in my own skin, so I make sure I get it right. I largely try to keep it positive because I don’t like fighting. But I’m human and I get fed up too.

When there is a dust up on Twitter, it’s not just because we felt like being angry that day. In fact we’re pretty tired of it. That “pointless fight” you’re seeing is likely the result of days of harassment or discussion which escalates, of a completely different post somewhere that has angered us and we’re discussing it openly. People jump into our mentions and demand we explain, try to placate with “we are the world” sentiments, without even understanding what we’re talking about because they’re not part of the daily discussion and struggle. If they were, they’d get it. I see people routinely defended against “bullies” championing diversity, yet when I am told to “go back to Afghanistan” (I’m not from there btw) or that I am “just too sensitive,” or “probably just a shitty writer,” for expressing myself respectfully and not talking about anyone in particular, those same bully fighters are nowhere to be seen. I am not afforded the same luxury of speaking out without being harassed yet I’m asked to not even critique someone’s approach to writing my culture. Where is our “extension of grace?”

When authors get a bad review, the number one rule is do not engage. Because a reader has every right to critique your work. If your work is being called out publicly for being problematic it’s nothing against you personally and you should take the same approach. Nobody I know or respect is trying to censor anyone. How could we? We’re struggling to get into publishing ourselves! The only thing we want is respect. The only thing we want is respect. The only thing we want is respect.

I say this over and over, my friends say this over and over, marginalized voices say this over and over, our supporters say this over and over and yet people will still focus on the anger and not the message. The anger is easy to rail against. It’s easy to say, “I don’t like how volatile things have gotten on Twitter,” because nobody likes that, I certainly don’t. But ask yourself why aren’t you discussing the actual issue? What about the lack of PoC in children’s books? What about the lack of black writers in SFF magazines and books? The small percentage of publishing positions occupied by people of marginalized backgrounds? This is what we’re talking ABOUT and yet that you won’t touch? You rather focus on the fights and there’s a reason for that. The only thing we want is respect and you are not willing to give us even that.




Posted in #MuseMon, Twitter, writing

Twitter Writing Events Schedule

#MuseMon hosted by (ME!) @Claribel_Ortega
With a new music inspired theme each week, my own writer event #MuseMon is a great way to kick off the week.


#LoveLines hosted by @ellekarmawrites @AmandaKWrites
Share your lines about love and relationships from any genre! Optional themes posted each week.



#2BitTues hosted by @AngDonofrio


#1lineWed hosted by @RWAKissofDeath

Pictures are not required but sometimes add a nice touch.
Pictures are not required but sometimes add a nice touch.















#ThruLineThurs hosted by @Madd_Fictional and @GurlKnoesSciFi

#Thurds hosted by @iamfunkhauser

#FictFri hosted by @Gracie_DeLunac
#FP hosted by @LoonyMoonyLara and @AdeleSGray, you can also follow @FridayPhrases
#FriDare hosted by @micascotti

#SlapDashSat hosted by @Madd_Fictional – No rules for this event!

#SunWIP hosted by @JudyLMohr

Posted in Advice, Books, Guest Blog Post, writing

Top 10 Manuscript Mistakes

There are so many places to go wrong when writing an entire book and even harder identifying these issues in your own book. Especially after reading it for the seven hundredth time.
Today, editor Megan Easley-Walsh (who helped me with my own book RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER) is on my blog to describe the top ten manuscript mistakes she sees all the time. This is super useful as an editing checklist when going through your manuscript, or to give to your critique partners or beta readers as things to look out for. Hope you find it helpful! hMQxUM6

10. Pacing problems:
The beginning must be engaging. The middle has to keep up momentum and it should end with an impact. Part of pacing also involves where chapters break. The end of the chapter should demand that the character turn the page to discover more.
9. Starting in the wrong place:
Cliche beginnings of waking-up, getting dressed, dreaming or another expected start should only happen if there is a very good reason. Begin the story in an engaging place, where the action starts. Don’t drop the character in where nothing is happening, but also don’t drop the character into some epic battle before the reader cares about the character. This brings us to the next point…
8. Not enough empathy for the characters:
If a character is rebellious (this often happens in YA), the reader needs to feel empathy to understand why the character is this way. No matter what personality traits the characters have, it’s important that the reader can get a true sense of them. This brings us to point seven…
7. Not having fully developed secondary characters or antagonists:
Villains don’t perceive themselves as bad. Their actions make sense to them. Likewise, secondary characters are the stars of their own lives. They don’t know that they’re supporting someone else.
6.Too much backstory:
Telling too much backstory is distracting, because it takes the character out of the immediacy of the action. You wouldn’t walk up to someone and introduce yourself only to hear the entirety of his or her life. Many writers do the literary equivalent of this though, when they introduce their characters and mountains of backstory. Pieces of backstory should be dropped naturally into the story, when it’s relevant to what’s happening. In most cases, you must care about the character’s present before you can care about his or her past. A book is a snapshot of the character’s life, where the most interesting or life-changing events happen.
5. Too much physical description of characters:
Writers, especially new writers, like to describe characters in minute detail: hair color, eye color, what the person is wearing, how the person has done her makeup, etc. Physical descriptions do not often convey deeper characteristics and are often unnecessary. If there is a physical description of the character, it should be for a reason. The reason can be that another character is observing that character’s feature or that the description sets the character apart somehow. For example, Goliath’s height is necessary to the David and Goliath story.
4. Copying another writer’s style:
It’s your story. It’s important that you not try to copy your favorite author. It’s better and necessary that you write your own story with your own style. Reading widely helps you avoid copying someone else’s style (subconsciously).
3. Not editing the manuscript:
When you finish writing the story, it still needs to be edited. If you need help from a professional, that’s totally fine. But, it’s obvious that some writers don’t read their work at all. Blatant typos should be corrected at the very least without additional help. Before you submit your manuscript to an agent, publisher, or publish it yourself, it should be polished to perfection (or at least as close as possible).
2. Not finishing the manuscript:
Many writers have several stories started, but not finished. While it’s perfectly fine not to finish everything you start, what usually happens in cases like this is that the writer tries to edit as she or he goes. This often leads to fear of writing the wrong thing and stalls the writing process.
1. Not writing the manuscript:
Whether it’s worry, fear or a lack of time, not writing the story that wants to be written is the biggest mistake. Only you can write your manuscript. Your characters are depending on you!
Follow Megan online!
Posted in YA Fantasy

F*** IT. ZOMBIES (Or: Why my editor needs an aspirin)


Sometimes doing exactly what you want to do is hard. I write fanciful novels about a magical detective. I love them. They’re silly and meaningful and ridiculous and fun. Also, sometimes, they’re hard. Writing a book, it turns out, is a lot of writing. When the pressure of deadlines and the slog of getting sh* done starts to make what I love feel like a JOB (gasp)… I’ve found that I have three options:

  1. Fortify and do your damn job.
  2. Abandon your dreams and drink heavily.
  3. F* it. Have fun.

A colleague of mine arranged for the author Jacquelyn Mitchard to visit our students last year. Mitchard spoke about her debut The Deep End of The Ocean being selected as Oprah’s first ever Book Club book. She talked about her process and was generally a very intelligent and engaging guest. My favorite moment was her reply to the classic, “What do you do when you get writer’s block?” question…

View original post 434 more words

Posted in own voices, Publishing, querying, Twitter, writing, YA Fantasy

My Querying Success Story on #DVpit.com

Originally posted on DVPIT.com

A #DVpit Success Story:
Interview with Claribel Ortega, Michelle Richter and Laurie McLean

Claribel and Michelle and Laurie, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on your partnership! To start, Claribel, I’d love to know more about your book and why you wrote it.

CLARIBEL: My book, RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER, is a mashup of all the weird things I love, but it started out as an exploration of real life New York City residents. Growing up in the South Bronx, I kept finding that each neighborhood or block had that one character. A person who is famous to you and your friends. Usually someone offbeat. Or you know, weird. But they were always special to us. Through my research I found out about John Votta, known as The Timekeeper on the NYU campus. I centered a story around Mr. Votta, who moved to Greenwich Village in the 1980s, and gave him a magical twist. As I began building my world, Emerald Kipp, a Latinx punk witch with sticky fingers and the incredible ability to control time emerged. In ROTK Emerald has to solve a scavenger hunt-like riddle to save her aunt before time runs out and erases her from history. Think Back To The Future meets The CraftREAD THE REST HERE!

Posted in Graphics, Tutorials, VIdeos, Youtube Video

Graphic Tutorial: For Book Promo & More!

A quick graphic tutorial using Picmonkey.com. Great for book promo graphics or any other simple design need. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section of the video and I’ll be happy to answer!

In case the video is blocked in your country, see below!




Posted in Advice, am writing, Books, Claribel Ortega, literary agent, MSWL, Pets, Publishing, query, querying, Querying Help, Uncategorized

Query Tips: Advice for Authors Seeking a Literary Agent

Querying, a Gif

If you’ve ever wanted to publish a book traditionally, then you know (or maybe you don’t) that getting an agent is an essential part of the process. There’s no formula for querying effectively, some of it is hard work, some is luck. But I think if you do everything you can to make sure the parts you CAN control are as good as they can be, it’ll go much better than just winging it or throwing queries out there without researching the process.

I’ve put together a video with all the tips I picked up along the way to signing with my own agents, and I hope it helps you! If you find the video helpful please like, and subscribe to my channel for more writing and book related videos🙂


Posted in AmQuerying Series, query, querying, Querying Help, Uncategorized

The Query Letter That Got Me an Agent

Dear (Agent name spelled correctly),

      Reeking of cigarettes and sneaking into her window after last night’s Smiths concert, Emerald Kipp watches as the sun dips backwards into the sky. The sixteen-year-old witch can’t decide if she’s still hung-over or if she really did reverse time. Coming from a lineage of Caribbean and South American witches, Emerald has always known she was magical, but after rewinding time like a VHS tape on her last day of high school, she discovers she’s also a Timeteller – a class of time-bending witches so powerful, they were hunted to near-extinction long ago.

     When Emerald’s only relative Aunt Nora vanishes, Emerald must venture into the dangerous Magick World, tucked within the NYC alleyways and subway tunnels to save her. Her only clue into her aunt’s disappearance comes from a message from the past—find The Timekeeper, solve the riddle.

     Despite the watercolor sky and talking neon signs, the NYC Magick world is a treacherous one, and skinstitchers , a class of witches who kill and absorb the power of other witches, soon make Emerald their target. With power hungry skinstitchers  hunting her, Emerald must rely on an underground network of Magicks to help her on her journey. Solving the riddle requires not only trusting her new friends, but overcoming her crippling anxiety enough to trust herself.

   As the mystery of the riddle begins to unravel, Emerald learns that more than Aunt Nora’s life is at stake if she can’t beat it. Armed with a book of magic, her still-broken Walkman, and her trusty lock pick set, Emerald sets out to solve the riddle before time runs out–and she, along with everyone she knows, is erased from history. This might be a little harder than Saturday detention.

RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER is a 99,000-word YA Urban Fantasy set in 1980’s New York City. It combines THE CRAFT with SHADOWSHAPER and  is a standalone novel with strong series potential. I am querying you because (brief explanation). Below please find my first twenty pages and a brief synopsis.

     I work as a marketing director and social media manager at The Combined Book Exhibit, which displays books at library and trade shows such as The Frankfurt Book Fair, worldwide. I am also a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Journalism program and a former reporter in Westchester County, NY.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Posted in am writing, Authors, giveaway

ScholarPitch 2016

[Turns from sniffing flowers]
Oh hi there, welcome to our post. We’d like to talk about a pitch contest. Not just any pitch contest, Pitch Wars.
Most of you already know what that is, but if you need a refresher blurb, feast your eyes on this (from the PitchWars page at Brenda-drake.com):
“Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors also critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round…In November during the agent round, each mentee is featured on a post that includes their pitch and the first page of their manuscript. Participating agents view the posts and make requests. More than 50 authors were offered representation and/or published with the help of Pitch Wars 2015!”

The submission window is coming up next week and there is a lot of excitement among prospective mentees to get their submissions ready to submit to 4 lucky mentors. There is the opportunity to get 2 extra entries by donating $20 to PitchWars .

This is the main thing we’d like to talk about. We believe that donating to PitchWars is key to keep such a great contest running. We also know that not everyone can afford to donate. So, we created this Scholarship fund. A Scholarship for Pitch contests…a ScholarPITCH if you will.

And since we’re POC/ownvoices and proud of it, we’d like to give this Scholarpitch to POC,  Native Voices and LGBTQIA looking to enter PitchWars. So, we will pick TEN winners to receive a $20 donation in their name so they can enter to 2 extra mentors. This giveaway is not an official part of PitchWars, but something that we’d like to start because of the understanding that not all people can afford to donate. (Note: If you can still donate then please consider it, PitchWars has done so much to get deserving authors’ work in front of enthusiastic agents).
To enter, tell us in 250 words (or less) why you think you deserve the scholarpitch. Include that and your query letter in an email to TheScholarPitch@gmail.com. Submission window is open now through August 1, 2016
  1. This is a small contest and the rules are decided by Claribel and Kat. They will personally read each entry and have final decision on winners.
  2. The contest is open now until August 1, 2016. If volume of applications becomes too large to read through before deadline, entry submission will be closed sooner due to time constraints of two authors with revisions and WiPs of their own to get through. If that happens, it will be announced at www.ClaribelOrtega.com and Twitter via @Claribel_Ortega and @KatCho
  3. Any POC, Native Authors or  LGBTQIA planning to enter Pitch Wars may enter. There are no restrictions on genre. (preference will be given to ownvoices)
  4. We reserve the right to disqualify anyone from the contest for any reason.
  5. Prizes are not transferrable. Please alert one of us if you decide not to enter PitchWars and we will reserve the right to choose a replacement winner.
  6. If you already have donated $20 then, unfortunately, you cannot enter. We will not be providing cash directly as a post-reimbursement. It will be donated directly to Pitchwars in your name.
  7. If we don’t get 10 viable entries, we reserve the right to not award some or all of the prizes.
  8. Your entry will remain private. We will not be posting any part of your entry and we will not be publicly announcing winners.
Posted in #MuseMon, writer, writing

What The Heck is #MuseMon?

Hi all! I am pretty obsessed with Twitter # events, especially the ones that involve writing like #1lineWed and #2BitTues. I decided to start my own event, every Monday, with my own music inspired twist!

A few of the #MuseMon themes so far.

#MuseMon will be a weekly event, where all writers are welcome to tweet 1 line of their WIP. I will choose a new theme each week and (this is where the music part comes in) the theme will be inspired by an artist, song, album or genre of music.

Tweet your line with the tag #MuseMon to play. No buy links or spam but please feel free to use GIFS. Here is an example to help you out:

The theme for the line above was NEVER.

The line does not have to relate to music! Just tweet anything from your WIP that relates to the THEME.

In order to help me choose the theme, I will post a poll each Monday with possible inspirations – meaning artists, albums or songs that you can vote for – and then I will pick a theme inspired by whoever wins that poll! Are you confused yet!?

It’s really a lot simpler than it seems, and the best way to get a hang of it is to PLAY! Check out my Twitter each week for the theme & please let me know if you have any questions!



Posted in Poetry, ReBlogged

On Friendship

Moto Poet:

Old Friends

Are friends,

And to aall of those friends,  you are just a friend. Any one of them. Today your best, tomorrow rest, and then a Judas’ friend.

For friends are not foes, nor foes your friends.  Time and wealth, love or pain, grief and hate, all or one, a mirage that turns to foe, a friend.

Are bad friends,

And from aall of those friends, you’re just a blink away, from foe to friend. Like a sheath is to a sword,  a sheath is to a dull blade… “Nipson anomēmata mē monan opsin

One knows that one is all to all, and all are all to one, the smile that shakes the hand, the evil grin of a knife at play. The tears. The Joy. Revenge

Are Machiavellian friends,

And of aall those friends, the one who’s meant to stay, will step away and claim your head…

View original post 149 more words

Posted in cover reveal, Uncategorized

Aboard Providence Cover Reveal!

Been a while since I posted a cover reveal but I’m excited to be sharing the lovely Keely Brooke Keith’s cover for her new book ABOARD PROVIDENCE.



That GIF wasn’t the cover but THIS IS:

Aboard Providence - Cover

Beautiful, right?! Read below for more info and make sure to enter the raffle!

– C

Title: Aboard Providence

Author: Keely Brooke Keith

Publisher: CrossRiver Media Group

Released Date: October 20, 2016

Pre-order Link: CrossRiver Media


One Sentence Summary:

A voyage aboard Providence changes Jonah’s plans, but can it change his heart?



In November 1860, Jonah Ashton is determined to finish his studies at Penn’s Medical School before rumors of Southern rebellion erupt into all-out war. When he learns his father has joined a group of Virginia families planning to sail from America to form a new settlement elsewhere, he travels to his family’s estate intent on saying goodbye. However, when an accident leaves his father in need of a physician, Jonah agrees to serve as ship’s doctor, but he resolves to return to medical school as quickly as possible.


While aboard the Providence, Jonah falls in love with former classmate Marian Foster. Despite their love for each other, Marian has no desire to return to America with him.


After an arduous voyage, Providence runs aground on an uncharted land in the South Atlantic Ocean. While the rest of the settlers celebrate finding the land they wanted, Jonah takes off to explore the island and he soon discovers a startling truth that changes everything, but can it change his heart?


Quotes about the book:

“A delightful adventure reminiscent of Swiss Family Robinson, Aboard Providence is one of those novels that will stick with me because I feel I’ve lived it. A captivating, well-researched, and deftly written tale I can confidently recommend to a wide range of readers.” –Heather Day Gilbert, author of Amazon Norse bestseller God’s Daughter


“With vivid settings and multi-layered characters, Keely Brooke Keith whisks her readers off on a page-turning journey, not just across the ocean, but within the heart. You won’t be able to put Aboard Providence down until the final word is read and then you will long for more.” –Brenda S. Anderson, author of the Coming Home series


“A blend of history and romance with a compelling inspirational message, Keith expertly weaves an intriguing tale. Fans of the Uncharted Series won’t want to miss this journey.” –Heidi McCahan, author of Unraveled


“Keely Brooke Keith is a master storyteller, weaving adventure, love, and wonderful characters into a vivid story that will take readers on an unforgettable voyage to a new place. Full of inspirational messages and tales of God’s love, readers will find themselves longing for more. Keely’s story teaches all of us that the journey is just the beginning!” –Christina Yother, author of the Hollow Hearts series



Author Info:


Author Bio:

Keely Brooke Keith is the author of the Uncharted series (Edenbrooke Press) and Aboard Providence (CrossRiver Media). Her novels are known for blending genres in surprising ways. When she isn’t writing stories, Keely enjoys playing bass guitar, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Originally from St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely resides with her husband and their daughter on a hilltop south of Nashville where she dreams up stories, hoping to encourage, comfort, and inspire readers. She is a member of ACFW.


Social Media Links:







Find Keely’s books online:


Barnes & Noble





Giveaway Info

Enter here for your chance to win an autographed copy of Aboard Providence.

Posted in Uncategorized

Sharing WIP Lines Via Twitter Hashtags – A Calendar

Jacy Merrill

We all love to share tidbits/teasers of our work. I know I do! Something on Twitter that has been gaining attention and attraction are the hashtag games hosted by other writers. If you wish to participate, there is one for every day of the week. In order to keep up, I decided to write this short blog post on it.

If there is one you know about that I didn’t list, please let me know, so I can update this list! Follow the hashtags and writers for the themes and rules.


MONDAY: #MuseMon hosted by @Claribel_Ortega

TUESDAY: #2BitTues hosted by @AngDonofrio

WEDNESDAY: #1lineWed hosted by @RWAKissofDeath

THURSDAY: #ThruLineThurs hosted by @Madd_Fictional and @GurlKnoesSciFi

#Thurds hosted by @iamfunkhauser

FRIDAY: #FictFri hosted by @Gracie_DeLunac

#FP hosted by @LoonyMoonyLara and @AdeleSGray, you can also follow @FridayPhrases

#FriDare hosted by @micascotti

SATURDAY: #SlapDashSat hosted by @Madd_Fictional (no themes, no rules)

SUNDAY: #SunWIP hosted…

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Posted in #MuseMon, Uncategorized

#MuseMon! A New Twitter Game for Writers & Music Lovers!

Hi all! I am pretty obsessed with Twitter # events, especially the ones that involve writing like #1lineWed and #2BitTues. I decided to start my own event, every Monday, with my own music inspired twist!

#MuseMon will be a weekly event, where all writers are welcome to tweet 1 line of their WIP. I will choose a new theme each week and (this is where the music part comes in) the theme will be inspired by an artist, song, album or genre of music.

The line does not have to relate to music! Just tweet anything from your WIP that relates to the THEME.

The very first #MuseMon will be this coming Monday, 6/13 and the theme will be: DREAMS! Inspired by one of the greatest rappers (arguably the greatest) of all time, The Notorious B.I.G.



My inspiration came from Biggie’s 1994 single Juicy from his debut album READY TO DIE.

His opening lines, “It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine/ Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine,” are iconic and set the tone for what would become Biggie’s signature storytelling style. Juicy documents his rise to fame, and any hip-hop head will be able to recite the song back word-for-word.

Make sure to follow me Twitter for the #MuseMon theme each week!

Posted in 80's Movie Rewind, Uncategorized

80's Movie Rewind : Modern Girls


You know those weeknights when you go to the hottest clubs with your best friends and meet a strange guy who ends up being pretty cool, after a long day working at the pet store or telemarketing office? No?! Me either, but that’s the general plot of this 80’s cult classic MODERN GIRLS, based on a 1985 Playboy article. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds and that, along with the soundtrack, is pretty much why I love it. Below is my spoilery-summary of the movie but really, you can read it and still enjoy it because the movie as a whole makes no sense! And it’s a masterpiece.

Cece  breaks it down for Bruno X

I first stumbled upon Modern Girls on Netflix a few years back. I was in a bad place, sleeping on a friend’s cot in Queens and pretty much hiding under a blanket all weekend (breakups amirite?) Modern Girls became a nightly ritual, my bedtime story. Warm milk with legwarmers and neon body paint set to a new wave and 80’s indie pop soundtrack. It was a hot mess but I loved it and still do.

Screen shot 2012-03-09 at 11.28.42 AM
The gang at a goth club being sad & stuff

The movie starts with three best friends, Margo, Cece and Kelly working at their respective dead-end jobs. After a quick disco nap and characterization montageKelly agonizing over calling her expired-jar-of-mayonnaise-ex, Brad while listening to Depeche Mode, Cece talking to her dog about getting fired (ME) and Margo reading with a sexy-saxophone instrumental playing in the background (ALSO ME)the girls take a disco nap and get ready to the tune of Toni Basil’s Girl’s Night Out. I know, I thought Mickey was her only song too.

Screen shot 2010-09-10 at 10.30.31 PM

The girls apartment is a hot mess, they need to do dishes! But who cares, because it’s time to hit the hottest clubs in LA and then…PLOT TWIST a handsome stranger arrives with some booze and a convertible to pick Kelly up for a date. Problem is, Kelly broke out ages ago (that means she left not that she has pimples) and now the girls are car-less. OR ARE THEY? After hypnotizing handsome-stranger Cliff into driving them to the club, the night of fun begins at the first destination, a warehouse like club with neon-painted dancers and mermaid costumed ladies. It’s totally weird! I want to go.

Cliff gets snubbed by Kelly, Kelly gets snubbed by bag of dicks DJ Brad, Cece meets pop star Bruno X who looks exactly like Cliff with a British accent, spiked hair and a leather trench (hint: played by the same actor) and falls in love with him and then the police come and they get separated. AHHHHH.


Kelly goes missing (she’s on drugs right now ya’ll bc of Brad) and Cece is crying over Bruno X while Margo rolls her eyes at everyone. Cliff laments nobody in LA reading or knowing what books are and Margo drops a bombshell : SHE WAS A COMPARATIVE LIT MAJOR *drops mic and walks away*  I laugh at this part. every. time. Cliff falls in love. Obviously. 

Margo, rolling her eyes at everyone & sneering.                 10/10 character

They find Kelly, and save her from a weird looking jeep-driving-jerkasaurus in an epic water fountain fight. That’s right. In a water fountain. The rest of the movie gets wrapped up in a nice little bow that will leave you asking, “What did I just watch and when can I watch it again?”


Ascot Video/Atlantic Entertainment Group 1986

Recommended for:

Slumber parties

Post-break-up sadness

Lonely nights in with ice cream (see above)

Buy here.

*Warning* There is on 80’s style racially insensitive moment which is awful, so just fast forward during the car-chase scene bc it’s pretty stupid anyway.



Posted in AmQuerying Series, literary agent, Publishing, querying, writer, writing

#AMQUERYING: With Michelle Hazen


Hello nerds! Today I have my third guest of the #Amquerying series, the very ass-kicky Michelle Hazen! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. Michelle will be an adult/new adult mentor in this year’s PITCH WARS so look out for her if you’re hoping to enter! You can follow Michelle on Twitter here and read below to find out how she got her agent, the deal with her science-tortoises and more!

How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

For the first book I queried, my only resource was an outdated Writer’s Market that I got from the library. For the second book I queried, I researched more widely on the internet at large. For the third book I queried, I joined Twitter, and suddenly the world exploded into a fountain of publishing information and contests, and I learned REALLY fast how many things I was doing wrong.

Writers? I hate social media, too. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the internet-less wilderness and most people’s great-grandparents got a smartphone before I did. But if you want to be an author, repeat after me…Just. Join. Twitter.

Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

Nope. I wrote 13 and queried 3 before I landed an agent.

I know you have a background in fan fic writing, can you tell me about that? Did it affect your querying process at all or help you stand out to agents?

Fanfiction helped me learn to write, and it gave me a chance to connect with readers and know how heart-swellingly awesome that could be, which helped me through the heartbreak of the querying process. However, I’m an odd fanfic writer in that Amazon Kindle Worlds gave me an opportunity to legally publish my fanfic and share my royalties with the copyright holder. So I had some publishing credits, sales numbers, and marketing experience in my back pocket before I started shopping my original fiction around.

What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent?

I queried my first book in 2005, to somewhat less than trumpeting fanfare because I was making a lot of noob mistakes I didn’t realize were mistakes. I queried Book 2 for several months in 2014, and I meant to write its sequel but instead I guiltily wrote this other book that was jockeying for my attention. I hadn’t exhausted my options for Book 2 yet, but I was SO excited about Book 3, so I started querying it and entering it in contests. Right away, it got more requests than I was used to, and I had my offer in hand within 6 weeks of sending my first query.


How did you balance querying with your other activities? I know you climb rocks and work with large tortoises for science.

Small tortoises, actually. For science. LOL! I have a load of hobbies, and I’ve never gotten super good at any of them because I have so many…and then writing came along and ate my life. It’s even harder to keep up with all my other interests now because I devote an incredible amount of time to writing. But I find that one of the kindest things I can do for myself during either the querying process or the being on submission to publishers process is to GET AWAY FROM THE INTERNET.

I just got back from a week long, girls-only rock climbing trip, and seriously, it is so wonderful to not be thinking about if you have writing news or if you don’t have news, and why you don’t have news, and if you don’t have news because maybe you’re a terrible fraud and a hack and should maybe drown yourself in Cheez Whiz and White Out. Plus, if you go to the wilderness, not only do you get away from the refresh button (irony), but you remember that you have a whole life and a lot of talents that aren’t at all connected to writing. So maybe when you get that next rejection letter, you’ll remember there are parts of you the publishing industry is not even ALLOWED to pass judgment on. That can feel really good—almost like being a stable, well-balanced person. Almost.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?

Oh, super cool. I was fine, thanks, totally expected rejection, was super zen, practically spouting green tea from my ears and thoughtfully pruning bonsai trees with machetes to pass the time. Ha freaking ha.

No, honestly through most of the querying process, I was teeth bared, JUST TRY AND STOP ME I WILL WRITE BOOKS UNTIL YOU ARE BURIED IN BOOKS AND THE WORLD RUNS OUT OF PAPER FOR YOU TO WRITE REJECTION LETTERS ON. My life story is a long list of pulling off crazy, unlikely shit because I was too stupid to give up. Writing is sort of perfect for me.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

Yes. See Number 5: Backing Away From the Internet.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

I didn’t expect it to end so soon! LOL. Honestly, there are so many blow-your-mind talented authors in the querying trenches, some of whom I’ve seen get agents lately and some of whom are still looking, and I sort of expected to be the one who had to query 20 books over a period of 35 years while selling baskets on eBay woven of my graying hair and lined with the tear-moistened paper of rejection letters.

But I suppose in another way, the querying process is never over. You have to land a book deal for each book you write, even after you get an agent, so the process continues: you just happen to have the support of a seasoned industry professional who deeply and truly believes in you. Which, I’m not going to lie, is awesome.

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?

RESEARCH! I mean, as an ex-counselor, maybe I should be giving you some emotional management tips, but really, you wouldn’t need nearly as many of those if you would RESEARCH. If you’ve never had anyone read and give you feedback on your work, stop querying right now. If you haven’t done dozens of hours of research on querying and what agents are looking for and what the most common errors in querying are…stop querying right now and start researching. I’ve seen too many really promising books burn all their agent chances because they were making some small, fixable errors. Don’t do this.

The piece of advice I usually give querying authors is this website:


Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

When I was writing fanfiction, I found a really talented author and basically bullied her into being my critique partner. She’s helped me with every line I’ve written and every day I have dragged myself through ever since. I hit the jackpot with her, and then spent YEARS testing out other CPs and beta readers. I now have a great group of beta readers and two flat-out amazing CPs who are a huge support to me in my writing and personal life. Those girls are funny, sweet, crazy talented, and they know when to kick my ass and when to send me Texas coffee or tree air fresheners.

I think you really need writing friends, because the world at large doesn’t understand the agonies and ecstasies of the publishing industry, and you need people who GET what you’re going through. Plus, their good news is just as exciting to me as my good news, so really it’s like you multiply the amount of good news you get, and that’s badass.

When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?

I was in New Orleans, eating bbq while a construction crew jackhammered the sidewalk next to us. When I saw the email from my future agent wanting to schedule a call, I froze. I wasn’t sure if I couldn’t think because of the freaking jackhammer, or maybe because my entire life had changed.

Describe the querying process in 3 gifs.


WRiter headdesk


Writer sobbing under desk


Seinfeld happy dance

Tell us a little about your upcoming book/what’s next for you.

Right now, my agent is shopping around a NA rocker romance series, I’ve just written a Thing that no one can pin a genre on that shows an interracial couple’s journey through trauma and love mirrored in the city of New Orleans. And I’m about to start a romantic suspense series about female Spec Ops soldiers. Can’t wait for that one!


About Michelle


Michelle Hazen is a nomad with a writing problem.

Years ago, she and her husband ducked out of the 9 to 5 world and moved into their truck. She found her voice with the support of the online fanfiction community, and once she started typing, she never looked back. She wrote most of her books in odd places, including a bus in Thailand, an off-the-grid cabin in the Sawtooth Mountains, a golf cart in a sandstorm, a rental car during a heat wave in the Mohave Desert and a beach in Honduras. Even when she’s climbing rocks, riding horses, or getting lost someplace wild and beautiful, there are stories spooling out inside her head, until she finally heeds their call and returns to her laptop and solar panels.

Michelle was awarded first place in the 2015 NTRWA Great Expectations Contest, New Adult genre. Her work is represented by Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary. Michelle is the Amazon bestselling author of Kindle Worlds titles: the Desperate Love Trilogy, the In Time We Trust Trilogy, Happily Ever After: Salvatore Style, and Sanguine Veritas. Find her on Facebook or Goodreads as Michelle Hazen, or follow her on Twitter @michellehazen.

Official site: http://michellehazenbooks.com/